Registered Charity No. 1157841

British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (as amended)


Section 19 provides penalties for those who practice, or hold themselves out as practising, veterinary surgery without having been

enrolled by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on their register.  The general principle here being that an unqualified person should not carry out veterinary surgery, so those looking after wild animals in captivity should, in areas of doubt, always seek professional veterinary advice.

There are some exceptions to this rule in so far as rendering first-aid, in emergency, for the purpose of saving life or relieving pain is acceptable.  The expression "first-aid" means the first assistance or treatment given to a casualty for any injury or sudden illness before

a medical expert attends.  It may involve improvising with facilities and materials at the time.  There is reasoned argument that such treatment cannot be extended over a long period as the urgency of the situation will have been attended to and it is reasonable that,

where necessary, expert medical advice is sought afterwards.


This legislation precludes anyone not registered, as above, from giving "professional advice" or from receiving payment for treatment.  Other exceptions occur under the principal Act, and subsequent Orders, regarding minor operations of an agricultural nature and some procedures which are carried out under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon by a lay person.  If in any doubt, you are advised to seek advice prior to carrying out any treatment.


When a drug is prescribed by a veterinary surgeon for a specific animal's condition, an unqualified person must not take it upon themselves to use that drug for any other purpose.

Prescription only medicines are strictly controlled by law and these can only be prescribed by a qualified person, i.e. a medical

practitioner or a veterinary surgeon.